Soul-Filling Entrées

Nest with eggsA few years ago, my family discovered robin eggs in a nest wedged between the branches of a tree in our yard. Shortly after our discovery, the eggs hatched and three baby robins huddled together in the small nest.

Frail and flightless, the babies depended on their parents to deliver worms from sunrise to sunset. During feedings, a raucous of chirps erupted when a parent landed on the edge of the nest. The trio lurched up with necks arched back and beaks open wide and eagerly devoured the meal. june-2010-baby-robins-066

Each day, the babies grew larger and stronger from the feedings, and two weeks after they hatched, they plunged from their nests into a new, unknown world.

Similar to the physical maturity these baby robins experienced from their feedings, our maturity as Christians depends on filling ourselves up with two essential spiritual entrées: prayer and the Word of God.  With both, God nurtures us from “mere infants in Christ” into mature believers led daily by the Holy Spirit.

But this type of maturity requires three additional ingredients: (1) frequent feedings, (2) a heart eager to accept God’s soul-filling foods, and (3) a willingness to listen to and obey God. With these ingredients, we can graduate from the milk we sipped as infants in our faith to solid food that sustains and strengthens us. And as this transformation occurs, our hunger for the junk food offered by the world begins to fade.

The first ingredient,  frequent feedings, involves regularly spending time in prayer and reading the Bible.  Just as the baby robins baby-robins-001-june-2010thrived with frequent feedings, we grow stronger in our walk with God when we daily nourish ourselves with these two soul-filling foods.

Prayer is a two-way communication between God and us, and through these daily conversations, we draw closer to Him and mature as Christians.  Prayer cultivates a flourishing love for and trust in Him and allows Him to work in and through us.

Christian theologians throughout history have emphasized the importance of a regular prayer life. E.M. Bounds wrote in Purpose in Prayer, “Prayer is the greatest of all forces, because it honors God and brings him into active aid.”

C.H. Spurgeon proclaimed,“Prayer can never be in excess.”

And the Apostle Paul instructed the church in Thessalonica to“pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17, KJV).

As with prayer, studying the Bible daily also deepens our relationship with God and equips us to carry out the work He has designated for us.  Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV) :

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for

teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,

so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped

for every good work.” (emphasis added)

baby-robins-002-june-2010Committing ourselves to daily Bible study also prepares us to recognize and fend off the enemy’s ploys and lies. In Ephesians 6:10 (NIV), Paul instructs believers to “put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” One of the pieces of armor is the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17).  With this sword, we can fight off the enemy with God’s truths and promises.

The second ingredient to add is a heart eager to accept God’s soul-filling foods.   This means opening our hearts each day to willingly and joyfully receive the spiritually-rich nourishment available through prayer and God’s Word.  We capture a picture of this longing for God from the psalmist who wrote:

“My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord;

my heart and flesh cry out for the living God” (Psalm 84:2).

E.M. Bounds wrote that prayer should not be regarded “as a duty which must be performed, but rather as a privilege to be enjoyed, a rare delight that is always revealing some new beauty.”

The third ingredient is a willingness to listen to and obey the commands God gives us during our prayer time and through His Word. This ingredient is critical for us to mature in our walk with Him. The psalmist who wrote Psalm 119:57, 60 (NIV) declared:

“You are my portion, O Lord;

I have promised to obey your words…

I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands.”

Failing to listen to and obey God’s commands inhibits growth in our relationship with Him and can even catapult us into a dangerous place spiritually.  We can find ourselves like the baby robin that chose to stay in the nest hours after her siblings departed. Later in the day, she finally gained courage to leave her nest and jump to the ground below. But unable to fly to a safe haven in one of the nearby trees, she remained on the ground as nighttime approached and the predators set out for their hunts.

Maturity in Christ is a lifetime commitment. Progress may seem slow at first and during some seasons in our lives. In the beginning, we may be like the departing birds in skybaby robins as they attempted their inaugural flights. Still weak, they struggled to fly. But they didn’t give up. They kept flapping their wings, trying again and again to fly. With each try, they lifted higher and higher.

As we eagerly accept the soul-filling entrées God offers us each day, we, too, will gain height and inch closer to becoming the people God called us to be.  And soon, we will be soaring high in the sky with our Almighty God leading the way.

How has spending time daily in prayer and in studying the Bible strengthened and matured you in your walk with God? I’d love to hear your testimony about how God has used these two soul-filling entrées in your life. :0)

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